The chance of nuclear diplomacy must not be wasted
With the negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA) disrupted and delayed for so long, the parties involved can no longer avoid very serious talks. Given the persistence of US-Russian tensions over Ukraine on the one hand and US-China tensions over Taiwan on the other hand, the importance of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations cannot be underestimated. In addition, regional cooperation between Iran and its oil-rich neighbors is likely to intensify as the prospects for a gradual US withdrawal from the Persian Gulf region appear almost certain.
It should be noted that the UAE has made it easier to sell Iranian oil to China, significantly reducing the risk of regional escalation with Iran. Numerous sources recently indicated that a thaw in economic relations between Tehran and Abu Dhabi has already occurred even as US sanctions against Iran remain in place. In light of these new realities, the real question remains: will the Biden administration stay on the current path of deadlock and trigger new tensions with Iran or will it act instead? quickly enough to avoid the worst consequences of the art of gambling? A failure in nuclear diplomacy could have profound and destabilizing consequences for the region and the rest of the world. Needless to say, such an eventuality should be avoided at all costs.
What is at stake is the world economy and peace. The likely consequences of failed diplomacy, both immediate and longer, include military conflicts, an interruption in oil shipments and an unprecedented rise in regional tensions. In addition to the dangers of military clashes, which could have serious ramifications, the disruption of the largest oil bottleneck in the world, the Strait of Hormuz, through which circulate more than 20 million barrels of oil per day, i.e. the equivalent of nearly a fifth of oil consumption, could plunge the world economy into a depression of historic proportions. Growing regional tensions between Iran and its neighbors and the possibility of Iranian military actions in retaliation for growing economic and political pressures would have far worse consequences.
All of these potential results are alarming at a time of rising nationalism, populism, climate change and the ongoing pandemic. A break in nuclear diplomacy with Iran does not serve the interests of anyone in the region or beyond. The ongoing severe economic sanctions have pushed Iran into the arms of China and Russia, even making it difficult to normalize relations with those countries as Beijing and Moscow appear unwilling to entirely circumvent US sanctions against it. ‘Iran. At the same time, Iran’s “Looking East” policy aimed at strengthening Iran’s strategic cooperation with Russia and China is emblematic of growing mistrust of the United States.
If the nuclear negotiations fail, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that Washington will become increasingly drawn into regional conflicts by supporting its allies – namely Israel and the Arab states in the Persian Gulf – against Iran. It is not clear that the members of the Abrahamic accords – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – would provide a defensive shield against Iran. More sanctions or even a naval blockade from Iran are unlikely to win concessions from Tehran. As a country that has lived with sanctions, and even got used to it, the Islamic Republic will find ways to survive.
It is virtually impossible to visualize political stability in the region without Iranian cooperative behavior. In a conceivable scenario in which the United States is disengaged from the region, the failure of nuclear diplomacy is worrisome at best. The Biden administration must find a way to resuscitate the JCPOA and engage Iran. Obviously, each party should come back to the JCPOA on the basis of the deal that already exists rather than trying to pressure the other for concessions. It is important to remember that a return to the JCPOA should not depend on solving everything first. It is essential to return to the JCPOA in the weeks and months to come, even if the two sides have widely divergent views on what constitutes “full compliance” or what these negotiations should ultimately achieve. Iran’s demand, expressed by Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, that “Washington should give Tehran assurances that it will never abandon the nuclear deal if talks to revive the agreement succeed “may not be practical as long as the agreement remains an” executive agreement. “Yet the strength of the deal lies in its multilateral framework and broader support across the world. There are some provisions that can be crafted in a new deal that go far enough to protect Iran from any possible future withdrawal. brutal and gratuitous US deal as long as Tehran continues to meet its nuclear-related commitments. For now, the resumption of nuclear talks will be successful, provided Washington and Tehran agree on the JCPOA, a agreement that can potentially reconstitute a channel for negotiating on other regional issues. This is not to say that the tensions surrounding regional issues will slowly subside, but rather to suggest that Iran’s regional activities will be negotiated at at some point.
Trump’s reckless withdrawal from the JCPOA has all but ended his ability to have regular diplomatic conversations with Iran. His re-imposition of even tougher sanctions on Iran than those employed by his predecessor (President Obama) fueled much uncertainty and mistrust in an already fragile relationship that desperately sought the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. Some Iranian groups, which have always opposed any rapprochement with the United States, felt justified in their distrust of Washington, and some would say they euphorically blasted the moderates for their trust and goodwill. will. The Biden administration can significantly reduce tensions between Iran and the United States by making the JCPOA a lasting and lasting deal. The benefits of such a deal only accrue if Washington gets the right image, taking note of Iran’s security needs, especially its legitimate defensive and deterrent claims. In the absence of such an approach, it is evident that the colossal wall of mistrust between Iran and the United States is unlikely to be dismantled anytime soon.
Mahmood Monshipouri, PhD, is professor of international relations at San Francisco State University; he is also a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the most recent author of a forthcoming book, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US-Iran Relations (London: Hurst Publishers, 2022). This essay is based on this book.